Tag Archives: ARM TechCon

mbed eval boards showcase focus on IoT software and connectivity


Chipmakers like Atmel are joining hands with ARM to bring the entire ecosystem under one roof and thus facilitate the creation of standards-based IoT products.


ARM’s mbed operating system is winning attention in the highly fragmented embedded software space by promising a solid software foundation for interoperable hardware and thus scale the Internet of Things designs by narrowing the development time.

Atmel has put its weight behind ARM’s mbed OS by launching the single-chip evaluation board for the IoT ecosystem in a bid to ensure low software dependence for the embedded developers. The leading microcontroller supplier unveiled the mbed evaluation platform at the recent ARM TechCon held in Santa Clara, California.

The mbed OS platform is focused on rapid development of connected devices with an aim to create a serious professional platform to prototype IoT applications. So IoT developers don’t have to look to software guys for help. The mbed stack features a strong focus on enhancing the IoT’s connectivity and software components.

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ARM is the lead maintainer for the mbed OS modules while it adds silicon partners, like Atmel, as platform-specific dependencies for the relevant mbed OS modules. Silicon partners are responsible for their platform-specific drivers.

Atmel’s mbed-enabled evaluation board is based on the low-power 2.4GHz wireless Cortex-M0+ SAM R21 MCU. Moreover, Atmel is expanding mbed OS support for its Wi-Fi modules and Bluetooth Low Energy products.

The fact that Atmel is adding mbed OS to its IoT ecosystem is an important nod for ARM’s mbed technology in its journey from merely a hardware abstraction layer to a full-fledged IoT platform. Atmel managers acknowledge that mbed technology adds diversity to embedded hardware devices and makes MCUs more capable.

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There is a lot of code involved in the IoT applications and software is getting more complex. It encompasses, for instance, sensor library to acquire data, authentication at IoT gateways and SSL security. Here, the automatic software integration engine like mbed lets developers focus on their applications instead of worrying about integrating off-the-shelf software.

The mbed reference designs like the one showcased by Atmel during ARM TechCon are aimed at narrowing the development time with the availability of building blocks and design resources—components, code and infrastructure—needed to bootstrap a working IoT system. Atmel managers are confident that a quality software foundation like mbed could help bring IoT products to market faster.

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Atmel’s mbed-enabled IoT evaluation board promises harmony between hardware and software. Apparently, chipmakers like Atmel are joining hands with ARM to bring the entire ecosystem — OS software, cloud services and developer tools — under one roof, and thus facilitate the creation of standards-based IoT products. Atmel’s mbed evaluation board clearly mirrors that effort to deliver a complete hardware, software and developer tools ecosystem in order to bring IoT designs quicker to market.

The platform comprises of mbed OS software for IoT client devices like gateways and mbed Device Server for the cloud services. ARM launched the mbed software platform in 2014 and Atmel has been part of this initiative since then.

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Additionally, Atmel has tied the mbed association to its SmartConnect wireless solutions to make the best of mbed’s networking stack in the Internet of connected things. The IoT technology is built on layers, and here, interoperability of communications protocols is a key challenge.

For a start, Atmel’s SAM R21-Xpro evaluation board is embed-enabled and is built around the R21 microcontroller, which has been designed for industrial and consumer wireless applications running proprietary communication stacks or IEEE 802.15.4-compliant solutions.

Next up, the evaluation board includes SAM W25 Wi-Fi module that integrates IEEE 802.11 b/g/n IoT network controller with the existing MCU solution, SAM D21, which is also based on the Cortex-M0+ processor core.

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Furthermore, Atmel is offering an mbed-enabled Bluetooth starter kit that includes SAM L21 microcontroller-based evaluation board and ultra-low-power Bluetooth chip BTLC1000, which is compliant with Bluetooth Low Energy 4.1. Atmel demonstrated a home lighting system at the ARM TechCon show floor, which employed SAM R21-based Thread routers that passed light sensor information to an mbed-enabled home gateway. Subsequently, this information was processed and sent to the mbed Device Server using a web interface.


Majeed Ahmad is the author of books Smartphone: Mobile Revolution at the Crossroads of Communications, Computing and Consumer Electronics and The Next Web of 50 Billion Devices: Mobile Internet’s Past, Present and Future.

Introducing the first SoC evaluation solution based on the ARM mbed IoT Platform


Atmel is unveiling an ARM mbed evaluation platform for Internet of Things applications at ARM TechCon 2015.


What better way to kick off ARM TechCon than with some big news? Atmel has unveiled the first system-on-chip hardware evaluation solution based on the ARM mbed IoT Platform.

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Powered by the Atmel | SMART SAM R21 SoC, the new solution runs on the mbed IoT Device Platform — a platform that provides the operating system, cloud services, tools and developer ecosystem that makes the deployment of commercial, standards-based IoT solutions possible at any scale. The R21 is an ideal solution for the rapidly growing Internet of Things market.

Atmel is a leading supplier of IoT solutions, and the company’s SmartConnect wireless solutions are the perfect companion for the mbed networking software to power next-generation smart, connected devices. Those who’ll be heading to ARM TechCon will be able to get a firsthand look at the newly-unveiled hardware evaluation platform powered by Atmel’s SAM R21 wireless solution inside the mbed Zone (booth #512, pedestal 1). What’s more, Atmel will also be expanding mbed OS support to the Atmel SmartConnect SAMW25 Wi-Fi modules and Bluetooth Low Energy platform by the end of the year.

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“High-quality, well integrated software is key to our customers’ success for developing complex IoT designs requiring several layers of standards-based protocols to deliver secure communications,” explained Steve Pancoast, Atmel Vice President of Software Development, Applications and Tools. “By delivering a robust hardware platform based on our Atmel | SMART MCUs and SmartConnect wireless solutions combined with the ARM mbed OS, customers have all the necessary requirements to quickly bring their IoT projects to market. Our mission is to deliver a complete software, hardware and tools ecosystem so our customers can build compelling next-generation products for the rapidly expanding IoT market.”

Launched in 2014, the mbed IoT Device Platform combines client and server software, consisting of a lightweight OS for client devices (mbed OS), and the matching cloud server software to interact with it (mbed Device Server). Both the mbed OS and mbed Device Server are intended to be building blocks for finished products so developers can take the mbed components and build the application logic on top of a solid software foundation provided by ARM.

“IoT developers operate at pace and they need a breadth of easily-available hardware and software technologies that work in harmony so they can bring products to market as quickly and easily as possible,” said Zach Shelby, ARM Vice President of Marketing, IoT Business. “Atmel solutions range from embedded processing to security and include highly-integrated wireless technology solutions for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 802.15.4. By utilizing mbed IoT Device Platform technologies Atmel is well positioned to deliver easy-to-use hardware evaluation platforms that include processing, security and communication protocols for next-generation systems.”

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For those unfamiliar with the Atmel | SMART SAM R21, the low-power MCUs are based on the 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0+ processor integrating an ultra-low-power 2.4GHz ISM band transceiver. The devices are available in 32- and 48-pin packages with up to 256KB Flash, 32KB of SRAM, and operate at a maximum frequency of 48MHz, reaching 2.14 Coremark/MHz. Atmel SAMR21 devices include intelligent and flexible peripherals, Atmel Event System for inter-peripheral signaling, and support for capacitive touch button, slider and wheel user interfaces.

If you’ll be joining us in the Santa Clara Convention Center, then come check it out inside the mbed Zone. Otherwise, stay tuned as we bring you more information!

Video: Chris Anderson talks drones, Makers and the next Industrial Revolution

Earlier this month, 3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson took center stage at ARM TechCon 2014 to share his journey from mere Maker to mass market, highlighting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), robotics, and of course, the “Next Industrial Revolution.”

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During his 40-minute keynote presentation, the former WIRED editor-in-chief shared his original “flying robot” (or, a Lego autopilot), as well as reasons for establishing a social network catered to those looking to experiment with autonomous aircraft.

“I didn’t know what the big thing was. And so, I created a website specifically to ask dumb questions in public,” Anderson explained. “Great things happens when you ask dumb questions in public. First, people answer your dumb questions, and second, it liberates people to ask their own dumb questions.”

Shortly thereafter, the DIY drone community — many of which powered by AVR MCUs — began to experience tremendous growth. For those who still need convincing that DIY drones are set to soar, Anderson revealed that DIY drone community is 60,000+ strong with over 2 million page views per month, 10,000 blog posts, and 150,000 comments per year.

“I was stunned first time I used the web. The same thing happened when I made my first drone.”

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According to Anderson, 2007 was a pivotal year in taking making mainstream. This was the time when “everyone was walking up…” as hints of it were seen in WiFi controllers, Lego Mindstorms, Atmel based Arduino and RepRap printers, and other elements of the modern-day Maker Movement.

Anderson shared his thoughts at that time, “There’s something going on here. I’m not sure what it is but I got to be a part of it.”

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“It later turned out what that something was was basically a convergence…. a democratization of technologies like MEMS sensors, ARM processors, etc. Suddenly things that were expensive got cheap, things that were hard got easy, things that were closed became open.”

This led to the boom of Internet of Things, wearable tech and other markets connecting once-ordinary objects to the web.

Chris even reminisced the days of 2009 with the debut of Blimpduino, a “company” he launched with his children on the weekend. Despite not actually being an operating business, BlimpDuino was a very low-cost open-source autonomous blimp consisting of an Arduino-based blimp controller board with on-board infrared and ultrasonic sensors.

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From there, Anderson took the audience through his progression from prototype to mass production — with the formation of 3D Robotics and his latest ventures.

Intrigued? You can tune-in to his entire session below!

 

Video: Pat Sullivan talks ARM Cortex-M7 at ARM TechCon

As reported on Bits & Pieces, ARM recently unveiled a new 32-bit Cortex-M7 microcontroller (MCU) targeted at high-end, next-gen embedded applications.

After being named one of the early lead licensees of the processor, we announced a new family of Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs, which are well positioned between our existing ARM Cortex-M-based MCUs and Cortex-A-based MPUs. The new devices will address high-growth markets including the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables, as well as automotive and industrial applications that require both high performance and power efficiency.

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During ARM TechCon 2014, Atmel’s Pat Sullivan had the chance to catch up with Dominic Pajak of ARM to discuss the company’s newly-introduced Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7-based processor.

“We are proud to be a lead partner in the Cortex-M7 product. We think it’s a great device and really like the performance of it. It actually sits really well between the M4 and A5/A7 portfolios, ” Sullivan told Pajak. “I see this as a really nice filler for us. It allows our customers working in both areas to have a bridge product and a really nice roadmap moving forward.”

As to which IoT segments the Atmel Cortex-M7 processors will be used, “We see it in mid-range wearable applications, as well as healthcare devices in that area,” Sullivan notes.

Shortly thereafter, Sullivan joined fellow industry heavyweights (ST Micro and Freescale) for a standing-room only panel on the microcontroller. During the session, Sullivan said he sees the Cortex-M7 also succeeding in networking and gateway arenas.

“We see it addressing a lot of the system integration, performance issues, and power issues that we have. We also see it working in networking, Internet of Things and smart energy. We think this particular core is well suited for the areas where we see the highest growth rate.”

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“Consistent architecture with high-performance is one of the most important things we see in ARM Cortex-M7.” He later added, “Huge data is driving a connected home and it’s coming sooner than we think.”

Sullivan concluded, “We’re all going to be in a more connected world in the future, good and bad. We may not even recognize it.”

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While sampling to select customers is currently underway, general availability of the Xplained kit is expected in early 2015. Stay tuned!

Video: Atmel talks about the newly-announced SAMA5D4 series

During the week of ARM TechCon, Atmel expanded its Atmel | SMART portfolio with the debut of the SAMA5D4, a new series of high-performance microprocessors (MPUs) based on the ARM Cortex-A5 processor. The SAMA5D4 offers OEMs seamless technology for Internet of Things (IoT), consumer and industrial applications including control panels, communication gateways, imaging terminals and more.

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Atmel’s SAMA5D4 series expands upon the existing SAMA5 family by offering H264, VP8 and MPEG4 720p video playback capability at 30fps for an enhanced user interface experience, bringing significant increases in processing and system performance. Additionally, the series also provides higher security leveraging ARM TrustZone technology to protect the system against counterfeiting, remote firmware updates and allow safe storage of critical data.

At ARM TechCon 2014, Atmel Product Marketing Manager Laurence Barberis talked with the folks at ARM about the newly-announced expansion of Atmel’s ARM Cortex-A5 based MPUs.

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Barberis also showed off a recent demo of the SAMA5D4 MPU running a treadmill application built with Crank Software’s Storyboard Suite. The application features video playback and a touchscreen with multiple controls that can be used to interact with a treadmill to adjust things such as speed and incline, as well as display data like heart rate, distance, and accomplishments.

 

Video: Atmel showcases the WINC1500 wireless module at ARM TechCon

Back in September, Atmel expanded its leading SmartConnect wireless portfolio with four new turnkey system-on-chips (SoCs), including the WINC1500. The recently-unveiled WINC1500 is an IEEE 802.11b/g/n network controller optimized for battery-powered Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

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The WINC1500 is an ideal add-on to existing MCU solutions bringing Wi-Fi and network capabilities through UART or SPI-to-WiFi interface, and connects to any Atmel AVR or Atmel  | SMART MCU with minimal resource requirements. As a result, the SoC enables Makers and engineers to bring connectivity to any embedded design, ranging from consumer to industrial apps.

As Hackaday’s Adam Fabio recently noted, “The WINC1500 is a nifty little Wi-Fi module in its own right… 72Mbps may not sound like much by today’s standards, but it’s plenty fast for most embedded applications. WINC handles all the heavy lifting of the wireless connection.”

The WINC1500’s most advanced mode is a single stream 1×1 802.11n mode providing up to 72 Mbps PHY throughput, and features a fully-integrated power amplifier, LNA, switch and power management. The solution provides internal Flash memory as well as multiple peripheral interfaces including UART, SPI, and I2C. The only external clock source required for the SoC is a high-speed crystal or oscillator with a wide variety of reference clock frequencies supported (between 12 – 32 MHz). The WINC1500 is also available in a QFN package.

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During ARM TechCon 2014, our friends at ARM had the chance to catch up with Henrik Flodell, Atmel Senior Product Marketing Manager, who highlighted a few demos that combined ARM-based Cortex-M0+ MCUs with the Atmel WINC1500 module.

First, Flodell showed off the SAM D21 Xplained Pro Kit, combined with a WINC1500 and motion sensor. As the video below demonstrates, the board was capable of wirelessly transmitting its coordinates to the application running on the screen.

“For the professional that wants to use the Atmel development tools or those from third party vendors, we have the Xplained Pro Solution.” However, Flodell went on to address the DIY crowd seeking to use 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0+ based MCUs stating, “We’ve also realized there’s a huge interest in the Maker community for creating connected devices based on ARM technology.”

Flodell then went on to give a first-hand look at our recently-unveiled Arduino Shield 101, which was paired with the SAM D21-based Arduino Zero.

This cost-effective, secure shield is an easy-to-use extension that can seamlessly be connected to any Arduino board enabling high-performance Wi-Fi connectivity. The Arduino Wi-Fi Shield 101 is powered by Atmel’s wireless network controller, part of the Atmel SmartConnect family. It also includes the ATECC108 device, from the CryptoAuthentication family, which allows users to easily incorporate hardware authentication capability in their design.

 

Atmel announces ARM Cortex-A5-based MPUs

Atmel has announced that it has expanded its Atmel® | SMART portfolio with the SAMA5D4, a new series of high-performance microprocessors (MPUs) based on the ARM®Cortex-A5 processor. The SAMA5D4 offers OEMs seamless technology for Internet of Things (IoT), consumer and industrial applications including control panels, communication gateways, imaging terminals and more.

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Atmel’s SAMA5D4 series expand on the SAMA5 family by offering H264, VP8 and MPEG4 720p video playback capability at 30fps for an enhanced user interface experience, bringing significant increases in processing and system performance. Additionally, the series also provides higher security leveraging ARM® TrustZone® technology to protect the system against counterfeiting, remote firmware updates and allow safe storage of critical data.

“With the large market acceptance of the Atmel SAMA5D3 Cortex®-A5-based MPUs, we are continuing to shape experiences surrounding the user interface for industrial and consumer applications. The SAMA5D4 enables the addition of video playback to control panels and displays at an unrivalled cost point,” explained Jacko Wilbrink, Atmel Senior Director of MPUs. “Security and counterfeiting are becoming growing concerns within the rapidly growing IoT market. These applications require MPUs with advanced encryption while maintaining the same level of high performance. Atmel® | SMART™ SAMA5D4 is positioned to deliver the security and performance many Internet-connected systems require.”

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Featuring an ARM NEON™ engine for accelerated signal processing for multimedia and graphics, the SAMA5D4 runs up to 528MHz and includes a 720p hardware video decoder, along with 128kB L2 cache for improved system performance. The MPU integrates powerful peripherals for connectivity and user interface applications including a TFT LCD display controller and dual EMAC.

The SAMA5D4 series offer advanced security functions to protect customer systems against counterfeiting by running authentic software and secure data. These include on-the-fly execution of encrypted code stored in external memory, tamper detection with erasure of critical data, and hardware encryption engines supporting private and public keys algorithms.

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To support the new series of SAMA5D4 MPUs, Atmel® has developed a free Linux® distribution available on linux4sam.com and published on a mainline kernel. A free Android KitKat port will also be available in December 2014 on http://www.AT91.com/android4sam. Atmel offers a free graphics software development kit (SDK) based on Qt5 including demos, widgets, background images, icons, and useful graphical elements to ease a designer’s interface development and customization. For non-operating system (OS) users, Atmel delivers more than 40 peripheral drivers in C. Atmel collaborates with an expanded global network of partners, including IAR, Timesys, Free Electrons, Active Semi, Micron, ISSI, Segger, FreeRTOS, Express Logic, eForce and NuttX that deliver development tools, PMIC, memories, Systems-On-Module (SOM) and software solutions.

To evaluate and prototype your application, Atmel provides a kit covering all SAMA5D4 devices, including a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen. A Linux distribution and a graphic user interface demo with video playback based on Qt5 are made available for initial demonstration.

For those interested, SAMA5D4 samples are now available while production is ramping. Evaluation kits are available using order code ATSAMA5D4-EK for $695 each.

The SAMA5D4 series is comprised of four devices and is shipping in BGA289 and BGA361 packages. Pricing for the SAMA5D43 with the 720p hardware video decoding option starts at $8.95 USD for 1,000-piece quantities.

The newly-unveiled MPU will be on display this week at the Atmel booth (#205) at the ARM TechCon. Visitors will have a chance to explore a number of additional hands-on demos including: